Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lesbian elected to the US Senate

Photo | AFP Ms Tammy Baldwin celebrates her victory over Republican candidate Tommy Thompson on election night in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Ms Baldwin became Wisconsin’s first openly gay Senator.

Photo | AFP Ms Tammy Baldwin celebrates her victory over Republican candidate Tommy Thompson on election night in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Ms Baldwin became Wisconsin’s first openly gay Senator.  

By DAVE OPIYO dopiyo@ke.nationmedia.com

As Americans celebrated President Obama’s re-election, advocacy groups also hailed the election of Tammy Baldwin, who is openly gay, to the US senate as “a significant stride toward bringing diversity to the Senate”.

There has never been an openly gay or lesbian member of the US Senate, according to several LGBT advocacy groups.

Ms Baldwin is one of four openly gay House members, along with fellow Democrats Barney Frank, of Massachusetts; David Cicilline, of Rhode Island; and Jared Polis, of Colorado. She also scored a first as Wisconsin’s first woman US senator.

Another section of voters in the State of Colorado were equally ecstatic about something else — the recreational use of marijuana had been legalised.

Voters in the State approved an amendment making the use of the drug legal in a historic result that drew wild cheers and applause from supporters.

“We won! We won!” supporters cried as the results were splashed across a giant screen, according to an article appearing in the Denver Post newspaper.

Voters in Washington State also approved a similar measure while in Oregon, the legalisation failed.

Other liberal decisions made at the historic poll included allowing gay marriage in some States. But others rejected a call to ban public funding for abortions.

Mr Aggrey Mwamu, Law Society of Kenya council member says it would be disastrous to legalise marijuana in Kenya.

“Marijuana in some instances is used as a pain killer. In the US, I know they have strong enforcement systems to ensure that it is not abused,” he told the Nation on Thursday.

Happen in Kenya

“But if it was to happen in Kenya where our enforcement mechanisms are weak, the drug would be immensely abused. It will not be a surprise seeing it being sold openly in the streets, even to school going children,” added Mr Mwamu.

And Dr Esther Munyoro, head of Palliative Care Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital said marijuana has mainly been used in some countries as a pain killer, especially for cancer patients, but she would not advocate its use in Kenya.

“There are other pain killers that could be used, not necessarily marijuana. I would not at all support its legalisation, if the matter were to come up in Kenya,” she said.

The Marijuana Amendment will allow those aged 21 and older to buy up to one ounce of the drug at specially regulated retail stores. Possession would be legal, but not public use.

Adults could grow up to six marijuana plants at home.

The amendment sets up a direct challenge to federal drug law, which regulates it as an illegal substance. Federal authorities have not said how they will respond to this amendment.

Other closely watched ballot races in California was one to force food companies to provide labels for genetically modified (GM) ingredients in their products, which appeared set for rejection.

Three states voted to legalise same-sex marriage, including Maine, Washington State and Maryland.

Same-sex marriage is not federally recognised, but it was already legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

It is constitutionally banned in 31 States.

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